Deena Kastor, Olympic Running Medalist, American Record Holder, and new mom to daughter Piper, age 10 months, shares how treating breastfeeding like training for a race is a great game plan for success! Deena’s steady focus on her goal, smart choices, and some French Toast at 3am from her husband — took her from breastfeeding intention to a strong finish with very few Booby Traps! Congratulations Deena – you’re unstoppable and you’re an inspiration to moms everywhere! (Read to end of post for our Runner’s Giveaway!)
Best for Babes: Were you “Booby-Trapped“? We often say that trying to breastfeed despite booby-traps is like trying to run a race in heels while people throw tomatoes at you! Deena Kastor: I was lucky that Piper latched immediately in the hospital, but I did have a hard time producing enough for her monstrous appetite. Hydration proved to be my biggest necessity to produce enough milk. I always had my water bottle with me when I was nursing. Hydration not only helped with my milk supply, but also helped stabilize my tired self throughout the day. BfB: Most moms can more than meet their baby’s needs. See an IBCLC (find one at ILCA.org) if you are concerned about your milk supply. Drink a glass of water every time you nurse, especially if you are exercising.
How is breastfeeding going now? Piper is 10 months old and I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months . . . she was taking the bottle and even food at this time. It was a natural progression for our daughter. Either way, it was Piper who decided to wean. During breastfeeding it was very important for me to eat well and rest so that I was offering the optimal nutrition for my daughter. BfB: Kudos to Deena for making it to six months! Despite recommendations from the AAP, CDC and WHO, only 44% of moms are breastfeeding at all at six months, and only 14% are breastfeeding exclusively). Although Deena’s training schedule may have affected her supply, natural, baby-led weaning usually doesn’t occur until a child is well into their second year of life or later. Your IBCLC can identify ways to help you boost your supply. Pumping or hand-expressing can signal your body to make more milk. Also, it is a myth that an improper diet will diminish your supply or make your milk nutrient-lacking: another one of breastfeeding’s miraculous “fail-safes” is that your body will take whatever vital nutrients you’ve got and make them available to your babe– leaving you potentially depleted. So stock up on nutrients for YOU!
Did being a competitive runner help your mindset? Did you have anyone cheer you on with breastfeeding? I think running helped in my entire approach to pregnancy, breastfeeding and raising Piper. I would focus on the desired outcome and then make choices to get to my desired goal. Most of the last year has been so rewarding in that we have a healthy daughter who sleeps through the night!
My husband has been amazing throughout all of this. I remember breastfeeding at 3 am and he came out from the bedroom asking if I need anything. “French toast?” He gladly made me his world’s best French toast at that absurd hour. He is currently so hands-on with Piper. He would win “Dad of the Century” if there was that honor. BfB: Setting goals is a great way to awaken your inner breastfeeding athlete. See “Get your Best Breastfeeding Game on, The Learning Curve, and our Ultimate Breastfeeding Preparation Checklist. Make a commitment to breastfeed and get great coaches and crowds of cheering peers, family, co-workers and employers to help you make your goal! With Dad on board, you’ve got the quintessential defender and teammate to help you get through any Booby Traps, and Dad gets loads of non-booby baby bonding time to cherish.
What advice would you give to new moms who are trying to re-gain their former fitness levels while breastfeeding? Any tips on overcoming the fatigue that comes with having a young baby? The only thing that got me back into shape was rest. What a celebration to finally sleep through the night. It is really important to take care of ourselves without the guilt of feeling selfish. When we are operating optimally, we are better parents. There is no rule of thumb on what to do and when. I thought I would be active my entire pregnancy and found it so uncomfortable to even walk, that I was sedentary for 5 months. After Piper was born, it was easy to get back into running because running felt good again. Listen to your body. I mean REALLY listen. The feedback I got from my body was more valuable than any book I read. BfB: Studies show that breastfeeding mothers get at least as much, if not more sleep than formula-feeding mothers.
Did you notice any drop in your milk supply as you started to train harder? If so, what did you do about it? Breastfeeding is so important for the nutrition and development of your child. It is also important for our own bodies to go through this natural process. But, I wouldn’t stress if it isn’t working out. I actually found that my milk supply went up when I integrated some formula and took some pressure off myself. At this same time, I began training harder but I really think it was the alleviation of stress that helped with my supply. BfB: We agree with Deena! Breastfeeding and human milk provide immediate and lifelong protection against many of the illnesses and diseases which have sadly become epidemic: for baby: ear and gastrointestinal infections, SIDS, leukemia, obesity, asthma, diabetes, and even breast cancer for baby girls; for mom: breast and ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, diabetes,obesity and heart disease. Breastfed babies have even been shown to have stronger leg muscles at adolescence (watch out for future marathoners!). Breastfeeding burns 500 additional calories per day (equivalent to 45 minutes of running 5mph for a 170 lb woman), so it’s a work-out for you, too! Too much stress can affect your confidence and your milk supply, so ask for help and let household chores fall to family and friends for a while. Remember that breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing, any breastfeeding is better than none, and a good IBCLC can help make it all work for you. Best for Babes believes that what is best for moms and babies is to make informed decisions and to achieve their personal goals, whether that is to breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months, 2 years, use donor milk, or formula feed. See Our Credo.
How do you feel about nursing in public? Recently a mother was harassed at Target, and another mother was humiliated by a judge for nursing discreetly in a courtroom, even though breastfeeding is legal and protected in public places. I fully support breastfeeding in public, even though I was a little more on the modest side. Moms everywhere should be entitled to feed their children, and it is a shame that others would feel threatened by that. BfB: Best for Babes advocates for an end to the harassment, humiliation and discrimination nursing moms unfairly face while trying to breastfeed their babies in public. Condemning public breastfeeding is a cultural Booby Trap even more than a legal one – nearly every state has laws protecting a mother’s right to nurse but too many people are still squeamish and uncomfortable seeing babies breastfeeding. To get involved, contact takeaction@BestforBabes.org.
We love Deena’s self-assured attitude, determination and special brand of encouragement. Thanks Deena, for leading the pack and the way! To learn more about our athletic teams working to Beat the Booby Traps and Put Prevention First visit Team BfB! Special thanks to Fit Pregnancy and Runner’s World for helping us spread the word on this interview.
Runner’s Giveaway: In honor of Deena, and all the babes who are hitting the pavement while breastfeeding, we’ve put together a fabulous giveaway, valued at $776, courtesy of the generous sponsors of this post:
1. A BOB Stroller Strides Stroller, red, valued at $469
2. A Britax Baby Carrier in black, valued at $130
3. A Three -Month Supply of Fairhaven Health’s Nursing Blend, valued at $54
4. A Generous Supply of Milkmakers Cookies, valued at $54
4. A Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bustier, valued at $39
To win this fabulous prize package, enter by leaving a comment below by February 8th, 2012. U.S. addresses only, please. Winner will be chosen using random.org, and announced in the comments section. Winner will have three days to respond to an email from us, before we have to choose an alternate winner, and products will be directly shipped from the sponsor.